TV – Sherlock: Season 3: A+

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While my favorite episode remains season 2’s “A Scandal in Belgravia”, season 3 has some fantastic episodes, including the funniest of the series so far. It introduces Mary, who melds wonderfully into the cast, complimenting Sherlock and Watson’s relationship without disrupting it. Both of the main actors have found extensive work on some great films, but Sherlock continues to showcase their best performances.

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Movie – All is Lost: A+

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I’ve recently realized that Man vs Nature is probably my favorite conflict archetype, and lost-at-sea stories represent the pinnacle of that concept for me. They have an amazing ability to create an almost constant, compelling tension. And the film’s mostly dialog-free gimmick, through Redford’s evocative performance, worked perfectly with this story type. After this, Gravity, and Moon, I’ve noticed films with micro-casts might be another favorite convention of mine.

Book – The Blade Itself: A+

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I listened to the audio version of this book, read by Steven Pacey, and while the strength of Abercrombie’s writing lies in his characters, Pacey truly brought those characters to life. Abercrombie gives probably a dozen characters each a distinct voice, fully-fleshed personality, and believable motivations. And his actions sequences are frantic, brutal, and completely enthralling. And though it suffers from first-in-a-trilogy-syndrome, it answers just enough questions for a modicum of closure, while still leaving plenty more to force book two to the top of my reading list.

Movie – The LEGO Movie: A+

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kids movie so consistently funny and purely entertaining. Every character was distinct and I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. I was pleasantly surprised by how many LEGO franchises made cameos. And the animation blew me away. The dedication to keeping everything 100% LEGO produced astounding cohesion and immersion. A definite candidate for best film of 2014.

Comic – Rice Boy: A+

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I couldn’t get enough of the surreal characters and settings. Each gorgeous page warrants attention. And the strange trappings juxtapose perfectly with a simple fantasy story of prophesy and questing. As soon as I was done, I wanted to immediately reread everything, not to clarify the story, but to revisit some of the awesome characters that appear all too briefly.

TV – Breaking Bad: Season 4: A+

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Now I understand the hype. This season had all the suspense and intensity I’d been waiting for. Cranston and Paul were both at their absolute best. Saul and Mike also have their fair share of entertaining moments. After Season 3‘s fantastic finale, it starts frantic and proceeds to showdown after showdown culminating in an even better final episode.

Movie – Lone Survivor: A+

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You know those scenes where, after they’re over, you can hear the audience release their collective held breath? Well that’s basically the entire second act of Lone Survivor. It’s intense and engaging in a visceral sense. Every time the characters start to have a cliche war-film conversation, BOOM! Explosion in your face. Ain’t no time for talking! It’s a little yee-haw-go-America and had some somewhat sappy moments with the “good” Afghans, but probably less so than most other modern war films. I just wish the title wasn’t so spoilery.